Stored Products Research & Education Center

SPREC History


Moving Forward

In the early 1990's, OSU's stored product group recognized the need for a university based Stored Products Research and Education Center (SPREC) to address major problems faced by U.S. wheat, and small and coarse grain industries to increase internal competitiveness of elevators and processors. Increasing problems in processed food/feed storage warehouse management need to be studied.

Recent regulatory issues significantly increase operating costs and management required to maintain stored product quality. The number of U.S. elevator businesses have dropped from an estimated 14,000 to less than 10,000 since 1985 due to economic consolidation pressures. Issues faced by U.S. grain, seed and process industries which SPREC can help resolve:

  1. The Grain Quality Management Act of 1986 specifies grain quality restrictions and prohibitions that have resulted in the loss of longtime storage management tools;
  2. The Montreal Protocol on Ozone Protection and the U.S. Clean Air Act of 1990 have targeted Methyl Bromide for phase out by January 1, 2001;
  3. The Food Quality Protection Act of 1996 specifically targets organophosphate stored grain pesticides for reduction;
  4. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ban of several economical and easy-to-use grain pesticides/fumigants; other needed grain chemicals are threatened;
  5. The Department of Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA) has enacted many regulations during the past 10 years that require expensive personal protective equipment and extensive worker protection personnel training;
  6. Increased EPA and OSHA regulations compliance by grain and processing industry leaders have seriously impacted the economic integrity of grain elevators and mills;
  7. Increased consumer awareness of pests and pesticides in the food and feed chain has caused millers and processors to specify zero insect and pesticide tolerance; and
  8. Air and water quality acts by Congress require more regulatory compliance expense.

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CENTER of Excellence

OSU's applied research and education "CENTER of Excellence," SPREC, can supply the means to combat mounting grain storage and quality problems before they cause further serious damage to the grain sector of the primary hard red winter wheat states. Without alternative storage technologies, such as use of increased management using storage tools -- controlled aeration, and increased sanitation and monitoring -- monetary losses of stored grain at commercial, milling and producer facilities are expected to increase dramatically.

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Center Goals and Objectives

The general goal in the design, construction, operation and management of the SPREC is to enhance economic benefits to grain and stored products for U.S. commercial enterprises through the development of integrated pest management (IPM) systems.

Specific objectives include:

  • Construction and instrumentation of facilities to be used for development of management strategies to maximize
  • grain quality with minimal grain protectants and fumigants;
  • Instrumentation of bins to accurately measure and monitor air and product environmental conditions to determine the effects of alternative integrated management systems;
  • Determining seasonal fluctuations in stored product temperature, moisture content, moisture movement and pest (insects, mold) populations under storage environments;
  • Quantifying pest and handling dynamics and damage as affected by alternative management strategies and practices;
  • Determining effects of storage management practices on wheat quality, value, milling qualities and storage costs as affected by varietal differences;
  • Transferring research results into production and commercially usable management strategies for U.S. elevators, processors, and producers soon after release;
  • SPREC used for educational programs for national grain product industries, as well as national/international technical audiences (buyers, technicians, government officials);
  • Study of advanced grain and bulk product handling, processing and storage, including joint international research to develop stored grain management storage/shipping options.

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            Proposed SPREC Concept

            The tentative plan for the SPREC facility is to design the facility to incorporate advanced technology field and laboratory scale steel grain bins and handling systems for research and education to solve national high risk grain storage problems. The design concept includes a central building that will house SPREC's small grain elevator operations office and grain grading station next to the truck scales and dump pit.

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            Applied Research Facilities

            To conserve funds, a dump shed will not be installed. Twelve hopper tanks will be installed in line with the dump pit and truck scale area for grain blending research. These ground level hopper tanks will also be used to simulate a concrete silo annex at a country elevator, along with two large flat bottom grain bins for large bin research. Sixteen 500 bushel flat bottom research bins and sixteen to twenty-four 170 bushel flat bottom bins will be installed adjacent the SPREC CENTER building. The small instrumented bins will be used to continue studies from the research laboratories in the SPREC CENTER. A total of 52 small bins (170-500 bu) and two large (8,000 and 18,000 bu) bins will be installed. Indoor laboratory facilities and equipment will be used to study applied problems associated with "micro climates", before transferring projects to larger pilot scale or full scale storage tanks for "macro climate" studies. Multi-purpose laboratories and classrooms incorporated with instrumentation and climate chambers in the SPREC will allow researchers to coordinate "cutting-edge" research directly with extension technology transfer specialists on a project team basis. Value added grain research will be coordinated with food engineers and scientists at OSU's new Food and Agricultural Product Research and Technology Center, which now has over 100 major commercial processing industry project studies underway. Grain shrinkage, blending, uniformity, grain/seed identity preserved (IP), and identified quality (IQ) research studies will be conducted to enhance marketing of specialized grain characteristics. Advanced research/technology from international stored grain research will be incorporated when applicable for U.S. conditions. "Containerized" controlled atmosphere shipping technology will be studied for shipping value added products to export markets.

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            Stored Products Faculty Strengths

            Since 1985, OSU has emerged as a national leader in stored product management. OSU faculty have worked closely with Oklahoma, regional and national grain and processed food/feed industries in jointly sponsored multidisciplinary educational programs. OSU's stored products program strength and leadership in helping U.S. grain industries maintain a strong presence in world grain markets is evidenced by the following programs:

            • National wheat industry education program supported by Grocery Manufacturers of America through the National Foundation for IPM Education, 1995-98.
            • OSU selected by USDA/CREES to conduct PIAP study on commercial elevator stored grain in 1997/98.
            • OSU published national "Stored Grain Management" handbook, OSU Circular E-912, for USDA- FGIS, 1992 and the revised edition in 1995; over 15,000 copies distributed to the U.S. grain and processing industry. A second revision is being considered to update this handbook for 2002.
            • Worked with Purdue U. faculty to obtained grant from USDA and PA to conduct the Vth National Stored Product IPM Training Conference, August 18-22, 1997, Purdue U. This four day national "Train-the-Trainer" conference was expanded to include all national grain and milling companies in 1997.

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            Cooperative USDA Grain Research and Development Programs

            During the past decade, OSU stored product research and extension faculty have developed strong working relationships with scientists at USGMPRC, Manhattan, KS. A formal Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed between USGMPRC and OSU DASNR in June, 1994. In this MOU, DASNR will act as the outreach or technology transfer arm of USGMPRC, and will provide input to basic and applied research at the laboratory. In September, 1995, the first formal joint research agreement was funded. This $22,000 two year study, led by an OSU agricultural engineer (PI) and USGMPRC engineers, will develop modular advanced dump pit baffle systems to mechanically control dump pit dust emissions, reducing the size/cost of negative air dust control systems on dump pits. These modular baffle and air system designs will adapt to elevators throughout the U.S. Other joint research and education projects are expected that will benefit Oklahoma and Southern High Plains. In July, 1997, a five year, multi-state USDA ARS study, "Area-Wide IPM for suppression of Insect Pests in Stored Wheat", was initiated involving USGMPRC scientists in cooperation with stored product faculty from Oklahoma State University and Kansas State University. This demonstration study involves working with elevators to monitor current practices and incorporate IPM practices during grain storage and movement from producers through the grain marketing chain from country and terminal elevators to processors. This project is to develop and demonstrate IPM use in wheat market channels to maintain higher grain quality.

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            Education/Tech Transfer

            SPREC will operate like a small country elevator designed for research and technology transfer. Equipment storage and warehouse rooms will be designed to study processed food/feed storage warehouse conditions like cattle feed and pet food storage at feed stores. An outdoor area is planned to study problems encountered at country elevators, such as drainage problems from dry fertilizer handling, This area will drain into a small holding catchment for study of water quality from storm runoff. An adjacent area will be suitable for test sealing existing and salvaged grain bins for leakage and pressure holding capabilities, and to assembly of new storage/handling systems like PVC hermetic storage units used for storing bulk grain and seeds, and packaged food/feed products in controlled atmospheres. Direct "hands-on" technology transfer to commercial users by Extension specialists will be a major emphasis of the CENTER. College level and adult continuing education in the facility will also be a primary focus directed to improving safety and quality of life of Oklahoma grain industry workers. These education programs will significantly strengthen state-wide and multi-state stored grain integrated pest management (IPM) techniques. Education/training assistance for grain export marketing efforts will enhance Oklahoma's economic development through seminars and "hands-on" workshops with visiting grain importers. These programs will be coordinated through DASNR's International Program, Center for International Trade Development (CITD) and Educational Television Services (ETS) working with the Oklahoma Wheat Commission.

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            What SPREC Can Do For The U.S. Grain and Milling Industry

            SPREC programs will focus on all aspects of stored product management by:

            Maintaining Stored Grain Quality

            • Develop and improve grain grading and market quality assessment techniques.
            • Determine effects of different storage technologies on grain and finished product quality. Investigate methods for monitoring and reducing pesticide residues on raw grain and grain products throughout the production and marketing system.

            Providing Technology Transfer and Education

            • Assist the industry in adopting new grain management technologies and value-added marketing systems.
            • Provide training on grain storage methods, environmental compliance, worker safety, use of pesticides and other storage products that compliment each other, storage sealing technology development and demonstration, facility upgrade assistance to grain industry.

            Improving Stored Products Pest Management

            • Develop new tools for monitoring insects and rodents in grain, stored products, and processing plant and warehousing facilities.
            • Determine and eliminate sources of infestation in production, storage, transport, processing, and marketing channels.
            • Develop pest management tools: automated aeration, biological controls, physical controls, new chemical tools, alternative fumigants, controlled atmospheres, methyl bromide alternatives, and combination storage treatment systems.

            Developing New Stored Grain Technologies

            • Improve sealing of existing storage facilities to allow use of controlled atmospheres and closed loop recirculation fumigation.
            • Develop handling and transport systems for identity preserved (IP) or identified quality (IQ) grain marketing.
            • Improve air quality and worker safety in receiving and load-out facilities.

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            Board of Advisors

            A SPREC Board of Advisors will be established to oversee and advise about needs for ongoing research. This Board will include OSU stored product faculty, USGMPRC scientists, Oklahoma and national elevator and milling industry leaders and food processors.

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            CENTER Funding

            On May 8-9, 1995, a USDA CSREES Site Inspection Team visited OSU. The team interviewed the stored product faculty, met and talked with Oklahoma and national grain industry leaders, reviewed the proposed facility plan and toured the proposed site, a 5.75 acre plot on Highway 51 at the west edge of the university campus. The CSREES Team recommended that USDA set aside matching funds for the SPREC facility. In February, 1996, CSREES notified DASNR administrators of $480,150 of approved funding. But, the CSREES facility grant funding must be matched dollar for dollar. All private matching funds must be received by September, 1999 to release the CSREES grant funds for construction. In August, 1997, the Oklahoma Agricultural Experiment Station announced a plan to enhance industry matching funds by providing an additional $0.50 for each $1.00 of private funding contributed up to the point of completing the matching fund level of $480,150. Several national companies pledged three year funding of approximately $100,000 in 1996 and 1997. In August/September, 1997, Oklahoma grain elevator industry organizations initiated in-state industry fund raising by recommending that Oklahoma elevators contribute a targeted amount of 0.1% of the value of all harvest grain handled through their elevators for three harvest years, 1997 harvest through the 1999 harvest. Several Oklahoma elevators have pledged support on the voluntary 0.1% of the value of harvest grain handled. As of Augusst 1, 1999, designated funds and pledges of approximately $320,000 had been received. Based on the $0.50/$1.00 match, from DASNR/OAES, the private combined match total is about $480,000-- 100% of the required CSREES match.

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            SPREC Investors

            An endeavor as important such as the construction of the Stored Products Research and Education Center would not have been possible without the generous support, both financial and in-kind, from a large number of industries and organizations. To the following list, we express our sincere appreciation!

            Breaking Ground for the new Stored Products Research and Education Center

            October 11, 2000


            Left to right: Gerrit Cuperus (OSU Extension Stored Product Entomologist), Kim Anderson (OSU Extension Ag Economist), Ron Noyes (OSU Extension Ag Engineer), D.C.Coston (OSU Assoc. Director, Ag Expt. Station), Dean Sam Curl (OSU Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources) Chub Moore (Gustafson LLC), Representative Terry Ingmire (District 34),Dennis Howard (Secretary of Agriculture), OSU Regent Gary Clark, ,Senator Mike Morgan (District 21), Representative Dale Wells (District 33),Tom Phillips (OSU Stored Product Entomologist),and OSU President James Halligan

            Construction of SPREC

            Multipurpose building frameworkMultipurpose building framework

            Multipurpose building and concrete pads for small research bins

            Contruction of boot pitConstruction of dump pit, within the truck scale

            Boot pit and dump pit

            Contruction of one of the large storage binsConcrete pad, for future hopper bin placement

            Large bin construction, and concrete pad for the hopper bins

            Ribbon-Cutting One Year Later

            October 11, 2001



            Left to right: Mrs. Lou Watkins, Senator Mike Morgan, Dean Sam Curl (OSU Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources), OSU President James Halligan

            Demonstrating the key insect pests of stored grain Demonstrating the latest in insect trapping equipment

            Demonstrations of insects and insect trapping equipment

            SPREC cake Poster displays, this one by Jeyam, Ag Engineering grad student

            The Reception included cake and a poster display

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